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July 29, 2019

For organizations looking to ensure a positive customer experience in the digitalized world, self-service is a must-have component of customer service. While chatbots are out on the front lines of customer service today, they are more often than not limited to providing basic support functions such as enabling FAQ support, providing access to knowledge bases, and scheduling appointments. Most command-based chatbots are ill-equipped to process end-to-end experiences that customers demand as they cannot handle complex inquiries or transactions such as payout and bulk order processes, invoice modifications, and so on. As a result, customers have to wait to get their queries answered by human agents, diluting the very premise of live chat. Around 63% of consumers say chatbots’ inability to solve complex issues is a big concern for them. What businesses need and currently lack is a self-serve solution that can provide a more holistic experience and run end-to-end activities in a seamless manner.

Can robotic process automation (RPA) with its advantages of quality, consistency, and ability to eliminate repetitive activities provide the solution here? RPA-based virtual bots can be made available round the clock to serve customers from any location with speed, consistency, and quality levels that far exceed human capabilities. Besides, they are highly cost-effective, can easily integrate with other customer service systems, gather data from various sources (internal and external), and have the ability to self-learn over time to improve at their jobs. 

Despite the advantages, only 58% of businesses are currently adopting RPA solutions for customer service. Others are hesitant, given RPA’s security issues and the inherent dependency on machines that cannot be controlled or monitored by the businesses. Challenges related to rogue automation and the fear of third parties accessing customer data without their consent (especially after GDPR and other stringent policies on privacy protection) further fuel these fears. In the process, businesses are missing a big opportunity to boost customer experience through RPA. What is needed is more focus on how to put RPA technology into practice more widely to improve customer experience.

RPA at the back-end complementing chatbots at the front-end

What are some of the advantages of leveraging RPA capabilities in the backend with self-serve at the front-end? Based on customer inputs, an RPA-based self-serve offering can classify customer requests into categories, ask relevant questions, understand requirements based on training, and process requests to instantaneously deliver output that is aligned with customer wants. This not only ensures superior customer experience but also provides enterprises a controlled environment with freedom to operate and flexibility to provide support anywhere, any time. All interactions between the customer and the offering can be recorded and integrated with the CRM system for auditing and tracking.

Customers, for their part, can execute their own requests, without having to reach out to the support team frequently, thereby enjoying a seamless experience.  At the same time, the customer service team can monitor customer requests in real time, as needed - for instance, industries such as retail, licensing and advertising require some human intervention in completing customer transactions. In such cases, RPA with self-serve can identify relevant support teams to take appropriate action and pass all necessary data to them to proceed quickly, without having to go back to the customer for information.

The result:  a flexible, tailored, and responsive mechanism, underpinned by the ability to capture inputs and process the data in real time to deliver flawless customer experiences.

Four key benefits for organizations leveraging self-serve RPA offering include:

Blending tech and human resources to deliver on the customer service promise

Implemented right, the RPA-based self-serve model can be a powerful offering that supports rapid customer adoption, enabling cost savings, personalized service delivery, resource optimization and more. According to Forrester Research, the RPA market will reach USD 2.9 Billion by 2021. Clearly, it’s time for businesses to create a whole new dimension to customer service using RPA in order to deliver on their promise to customers.

Kapil Manshani is a domain consultant with TCS' HiTech business unit. With over 13 years of experience in the IT industry, he is currently leading new platform development for a global technology account to improvise service and operations excellence within and outside the client organization. A CSR champion for the account, Manshani regularly volunteers in activities pertaining to education, environment, and health. He has a Bachelor's degree in Electronics Engineering from Nagpur University, Maharashtra, India. Manshani has vast experience in business delivery, solution design, and customer relationship management.


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